Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It's the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world. Jacob introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus' animal trainer); and to Rosie, a seemingly untrainable elephant.
Beautifully written, with a luminous sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells of love in a world in which love's a luxury few can afford.
©2006 Sara Gruen; (P)2006 HighBridge Company
"Water for Elephants resembles stealth hits like The Giant's House, by Elizabeth McCracken, or The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale.” (New York Times Book Review)
"Just like a circus, the magic of the story and the writing convince you to suspend your disbelief." (Booklist)
"Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes, and freaks who populate her book." (Publishers Weekly)
Give this book 90 minutes and you will be caught. It is a beautiful story with all the things you need; tragedy, romance, history. It is simply enthralling.
It was a bitter-sweet story enhanced by listening to a recording with two readers who sounded age-appropriate. Wanted to read it in advance of movie with Rob Pattinson, can't wait. Technical problem with the recording, Audible seems to have mixed up parts one and two. The standard Audible intro and middle-section instructions about reaching the end of a part, but not the end.... are on the second (last download), but no introduction on the opening. A little confusing at first, wasn't sure I was at the beginning of the book.
This was one of those books that I was hesitant to push pause. I really enjoyed the story and the characters were so realistic. The villain has a side that is so like-able that you find yourself questioning the fact that he is a villain. The hero is flawed which makes him even better and the romance is wonderful yet downplayed. You actually care about Jacob and not just his relationships. The story shifts between past and present and without giving too much away the ending really brings it all together. This is an amazing read and i highly recommend picking it up.
I loved this book. The two narrators were perfect and add a great touch to such a wonderful novel.
One of the best parts of listening to a book on audio is when the narration ADDS to the story that would otherwise be lost if it were just simply read from a novel. The narration of the younger man and then the older man by two different narrators is what made this book 5 stars in addition to the story that just captivated me. Made me see circus life in a whole new way.
I was drawn into this book from the minute it started because of the actors. They did such an amazing job! I can still hear the "old" Jacob in my head when I think about the story. The voice of August was wonderful as well. Some books are just better listened to than read. Its like I'm attending a great performance every time I put my headphones on. It was a wonderful story as well!
I've been listening to audio books for years and have been an audible subscriber for ? 10 years maybe? A long time anyway.
A great listen
I'm a recovering librarian. Since I had a stroke in 2002 I have found reading print difficult. I am so grateful for audiobooks.
Wonderful description of the Depression era circus life in grizzly detail mixed with poignant and very funny sections of life in a nursing home.
"Water for Elephants"
Both strangely exotic and nostalgically familiar, this tale of tenderness found in the harsh reality of circus life and enduring love stolen from cruelty is captivating and entrancing. Told through the eyes and voices of an old timer and his younger self, it flips from past to present and back again with ease and manages to bring two stories together with equal strength and interest. A beautiful story that is beautifully read by the narrators.
I listened to this for a second time when I had exhausted my new supply while away.
And it was just as enthralling as the first listen.
Brilliantly written and wonderfully read by the two readers.
I can't recommend it highly enough - one of the best audibles I've listened to.
"A true love story"
A true love story written to thrive in the 21st Centry, from the charactors to the plot line its well written and addictive.........
"The film does not even get close."
I could not put this book down.
I remember exactly where I was when things happened in this book.
The character of the old man is explored to the fullest extend, this character made the story, and was completely overlooked in the film version.
Perfect for a holiday, or summer commutes, as I did.
Unusual subject and not one I would normally choose. It made me laugh and cry. Brilliant. Do read it
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this audiobook when I started listening to it as I found the hopping between the current and past a little hard going and the older person's voice difficult to understand at times. But, I'm glad I perservered with it. The story is very original and draws you in. Worth a listen
"Wonderfully engaging Big Top Book"
This book tells the story of a young man thrown into the life of a circus worker after his parents are killed. The wonderful transition between times takes the listening into two very different but equally compelling settings. Brilliant !!
"Great Original Story"
Great to read an original book for a change. I knew nothing about the american circus trains, and now I do! Takes place during the American Depression. The love story is a bit lame but otherwise a terrific listen.
"I Loved it!"
A really enjoyable listen, on a par with 'The Help'. This has been one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to; it was really well structured and well read, I was thoroughly entertained the whole way through. I highly recommend this audiobook.
"Enjoyed every single second …."
It left me wanting more…. I did not want the story to end. I laughed and cried. This is a tale simply told, an account that was both funny & sad, on times illustrating the cruelty inherent in some human beings and the goodness of others. The narration was outstanding, it brought the wonderful characters to life and I could really see them through ‘Jacobs’ eyes. It also made me think about the value we place on our elderly population. Can’t wait to watch the film, hope it lives up to the book.
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